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Famke Janssen - Biography & Career

Famke Beumer was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on November 5, 1965, Famke (which means "little girl" in Frisian) was a model before making it to the big leagues as a Hollywood actress.

She lived in Amsterdam with her parents and her two sisters until 1984, when she decided to move to New York City. Although she signed on with the Elite modeling agency, she continued her studies at Columbia University, where she majored in writing and literature.

While a student, she decided to try her hand at acting, and took acting classes with Harold Guskin.

Wanting to pursue a full-time acting career, Famke picked up and moved to Los Angeles. There she continued to take acting lessons and finally landed her first onscreen film role in the 1992 movie, Fathers & Sons.

More roles didn't start pouring in immediately, probably due to the film's poor performance, but Famke was offered a part on an episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Almost foreshadowing her role as a superhero in X-Men, the Dutch beauty played the role of Kamala, the threatening "metamorph."

With an appearance on Melrose Place in 1994 as a hooker and a role in the made-for-TV movie Model by Day that same year, Famke had yet to see the success that was soon to come her way.

After a female leading role in the film Lord of Illusions (1995), Famke received the coveted role of Bond Girl Xenia Onatopp, a Soviet mafia assassin who crushes her victims to death with her thighs.

Her role in the 1995 Bond film GoldenEye opposite Pierce Brosnan was a box-office success, and can be considered the breakthrough role that made audiences and the film industry more aware of Famke's talents. It also won her an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Fight in a movie.

Because of the film's success, and the fame that soon-to-be Bond Girls Michelle Yeoh and Denise Richards were yet to see, Famke was afraid that she would be pigeonholed into the role of femme fatale.

It was for this reason that Famke decided to work on more independent films, rather than mainstream movies. In the years that followed, Famke had roles in many films, including Dead Girl (1996), City of Industry (1997), RPM (1998), and Snitch (1998). In 1998, she also appeared in Woody Allen's Celebrity, Rounders (opposite Matt Damon and Edward Norton), and the teen thriller The Faculty.

In 1995, Famke married director Tod "Kip" Williams, who directed her in the film The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, but they got divorced in 2000.

Putting her writing degree to good use, Famke wrote a screenplay, but has not done anything with it yet. Fluent in German, French, English, and Dutch, Famke claims to be a huge fan of such authors as The Bronte Sisters and Vladimir Nabokov. As an actress, Famke prefers playing roles of characters from novels, since they have more depth.

Although X-Men (2000) was adapted from a comic book series rather than a novel, this box-office hit increased Famke's star quality exponentially. The film not only reunited her with her Star Trek co-star Patrick Stewart and allowed her to join the ranks of fellow superheroes Rebecca Romijn and Halle Berry, but it also made everyone aware of Famke's superpowers as an actress.

After the X-Men hype died down, Famke's next films were Love & Sex (2000), co-starring Jon Favreau, and Circus. Next, she starred in Favreau's Made and the Michael Douglas thriller Don't Say a Word, both released in 2001.

Following the action comedy I Spy (2002) with Eddie Murphy, she saved the world once more in X2: X-Men United (2003), starred in the thriller Hide and Seek (2005) and joined the comic world again in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).

On the TV front, Famke kept busy with a guest-starring role on Aly McBeal in 2000 and 2001, and, although she's far from looking like a man, she played a post-op transvestite in the plastic surgery TV drama Nip/Tuck.